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Physical Disabilities. By Sally Gunter. Definition. Legal Definition: a condition which prevents one from performing all usual physical functions. This usually means a permanent state, like blindness, but in some cases it is temporary. Medical Definition: inability to function normally.

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physical disabilities

Physical Disabilities

By Sally Gunter

  • Legal Definition:
    • a condition which prevents one from performing all usual physical functions. This usually means a permanent state, like blindness, but in some cases it is temporary.
  • Medical Definition:
    • inability to function normally
idea s definition
IDEA’s Definition
  • IDEA refers to physical disabilities as:
    • orthopedic impairment, and in C.F.R. Sec 300.7 states:
      • "Orthopedic impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital anomaly (e.g. clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments cause by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations and fractures or burns that cause contractures).
specific types
Specific Types
  • Cerebral Palsy
    • Spastic
    • Ataxic
    • Athedoid
    • Mixed
    • Quadriplegia
    • Hemiplegia
    • Diplegia
  • Spina Bifida
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
    • Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
  • Seizures
Cerebral Palsy (CP)-Cerebral means head and palsy refers to anything wrong with control of the muscles or joints in the body
  • Cerebral Palsy is a medical condition that affects control of the muscles.
  • Caused by an injury to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth.
    • Cause is usually unknown
  • Children with CP:
    • may not be able to walk, talk, eat or play in the same ways as most other kids.
what causes cp
What Causes CP?
  • Cerebral palsy is not a disorder with a single cause, like chicken pox or measles. It is a group of disorders with similar problems in control of movement, but probably with a variety of causes
  • Congenital cerebral palsy, results from brain injury during intra-uterine life
  • Acquired cerebral palsy results from brain damage in the first few months or years of life and can follow brain infections, such as bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis, or the results of head injury -- most often from a motor vehicle accident, a fall, or child abuse

spina bifida spina bifida means cleft spine which is an incomplete closure in the spinal column
Spina BifidaSpina Bifida means cleft spine,which is an incomplete closure in the spinal column
  • 3 Types of Spina Bifida are:
    • Spina Bifida Occulta: There is an opening in one or more of the vertebrae (bones) of the spinal column without apparent damage to the spinal cord.
    • Meningocele: The protective covering around the spinal cord, has pushed out through the opening in the vertebrae in a sac called the "meningocele." However, the spinal cord remains intact. This form can be repaired with little or no damage to the nerve pathways.
    • Myelomeningocele: This is the most severe form of spina bifida, in which a portion of the spinal cord itself protrudes through the back. In some cases, sacs are covered with skin; in others, tissue and nerves are exposed. Generally, people use the terms "spina bifida" and "myelomeningocele" interchangeably. - from NICHCY
what causes sb
What Causes SB?
  • The exact cause of spina bifida remains a mystery
  • No one knows what disrupts complete closure of the neural tube, causing a malformation to develop.
    • Scientists suspect genetic, nutritional, and environmental factors play a role.
  • Research studies indicate that insufficient intake of folic acid—a common B vitamin


Muscular Dystrophya group of diseases that are, for the most part, genetically determined and cause gradual wasting of muscle with accompanying weakness and deformity

  • 3 Common Features:
    • they are hereditary
    • they are progressive
    • each causes a characteristic
  • Most well known of the muscular dystrophies is Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD)
  • Next most well known is Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD)
what causes md
What Causes MD?
  • All of the muscular dystrophies are inherited and involve a mutation in one of the thousands of genes that program proteins critical to muscle integrity
  • The body's cells don't work properly when a protein is altered or produced in insufficient quantity
  • Many cases of MD occur from spontaneous mutations that are not found in the genes of either parent, and this defect can be passed to the next generation
traumatic brain injury tbi also sometimes referred to as acquired brain injury abi
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)also sometimes referred to as Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
  • Occurs to a person who is developing normally and then suffers an assault
  • Must occur before adulthood to acquire the label of TBI
  • Caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain
    • Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI
  • Severity of TBI can range from “mild” to “severe”
what causes tbi
What Causes TBI?
  • TBI may be the result of an injury
    • Falls (28%)
    • Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (20%)
    • Struck by/against events (19%)
    • Assaults (11%)
  • Also may be caused by:
    • An accident
    • Drowning
    • Being resuscitated
acquired brain injury
Acquired Brain Injury
  • ABI may also result from an illness:
    • Stroke
    • High temperature
    • Seizures
    • Illness that cuts off oxygen to the brain
    • Tumor
    • Brain surgery
  • ABI is not considered an eligible part of special ed services
    • Because of this, these students are classified as TBI
what causes abi
What Causes ABI?
  • Common causes are:
    • airway obstruction
    • near drowning
    • choking
    • injuries in which the chest has been crushed
    • electrical shock
    • lightening strike
    • trauma to the head or neck
    • blood loss
    • artery impingement
    • shock
    • heart attack
    • stroke,
  • aneurysm
  • intracranial surgery
  • vascular disruption
  • infections diseases
  • intracranial tumors
  • metabolic disorders
  • meningitis
  • some venereal diseases
  • insect-carried diseases
  • AIDS
  • hypo or hyperglycemia
  • hepatic encephalopathy
  • uremic encephalopathy
  • seizure disorders
  • toxic exposures to chemical and gases 

Brain MapClick on an area of the brain to learn more about its functions

Brain Map

Damage to the frontal lobe can cause paralysis

Damage to the cerebellum can cause the lack of the ability to coordinate fine movements as well as the ability to walk

Damage to the brain stem can cause balance and movement problems

  • What is a seizure?
    • An abnormal movement or behavior due to unusual electrical activity in the brain
  • Most commonly thought of as a symptom of epilepsy, but not all people who have seizures have epilepsy
    • Epilepsy is a group of related disorders characterized by a tendency for recurrent seizures.
what causes seizures
What Causes Seizures?
  • Provoked seizures (epileptic) can be caused by:
    • Trauma
    • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
    • Low blood sodium
    • High fever, or
    • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Non-epileptic seizures can be caused by:
    • psychological issues or
    • stress
how many are affected
How many are affected?
  • Cerebral Palsy
    • It is estimated that some 764,000 children and adults in the United States manifest one or more of the symptoms of cerebral palsy. Currently, about 8,000 babies and infants are diagnosed with the condition each year. In addition, some 1,200 - 1,500 preschool age children are recognized each year to have cerebral palsy
  • Spina Bifida
    • One of the most common birth defects, with an average worldwide incidence of 1-2 cases per 1000 births
  • Muscular Dystrophy
    • Approx. 1 in every 3,500 to 5,000 boys, or between 400 and 600 live male births each year in the United States
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
    • Approx. 1.4 million sustain a TBI each year in the US alone
  • Seizures
    • 0.5% to 1%
universal design for learning
Universal Design for Learning
  • Movement is based on the principles behind the universal design movement for access to products and environments for all users, regardless of sensory or physical disabilities

differentiated instruction
Differentiated Instruction
  • Differentiating instruction provides teachers with tools to construct instruction and modify curriculum that is compatible with how students learn and perform in classrooms
  • The best possible learning environment for students with disabilities is in a classroom where differentiated instruction is the norm and not how IDEA suggests
tips for working with children with severe handicaps
Tips for Working with Children with Severe Handicaps
  • YOU are a very important person in this child's life.
  • Be patient, willing and warm at all times.
    • Use grade appropriate materials.
    • Identify some clear goals/expectations
    • Be consistent
      • Have predictable routines for everything you do.
    • Make sure that everything is relevant to the child you are working with.
    • Track progress carefully to define readiness for the next milestone.

tips cont
Tips Cont.
  • Physically handicapped children long to be normal and be seen as normal as much as possible.
    • Focus on what they can do at all times.
  • Find out what the child's strengths are and capitalize on them.
    • These children need to feel successful too!
  • Keep your expectations high.
    • This child is capable of achieving.
  • Never accept rude remarks, name calling or teasing from other children.
  • Compliment appearance from time to time.
  • Make adjustments and accommodations whenever possible to enable this child to participate.
  • Never pity the physically handicapped child, they do not want your pity.
  • Take the opportunity when the child is absent to teach the rest of the class about physical handicaps.
  • Take frequent 1 to 1 time with the child to make sure that he/she is aware that you're there to help when needed.